José Ascaso had been riding his chestnut mare most of the day and was beginning to feel tired. Together, they had made good progress deep into the Pyrenean valley alongside Rio Ara. His plan was to spend the night in Broto, a small mountain town, and ride on into Ordesa Gorge the next day. The valley had become steep and narrow with the mountains rising to 6000 feet on both sides. He hoped to spot the Lammergeier, it is known to fly in the gorge. It is a large vulture with a wingspan of almost 3 metres and weighing up to 7 Kg. It feeds on bone after the other vultures have taken the flesh of dead animals. [Read more…] about Exclusive – Chandler’s Ford man found in Pyrenees
Grasshoper Warbler; the value of mentors; a singing nightingale elicits bittersweet emotions; a desire to give comfort to others in time of need; quite a lot of orchids, and Dad gets his athletics colours.
On April 27th 1948:
An entomological friend of Barry’s came down from Bradford today to go with him for Scarlet Tiger caterpillars. He remarked upon the wealth of blossom on the flowering trees and shrubs down here and said that Spring in the south seemed a good three weeks in advance of Yorkshire… Nightingales were singing all along the banks of the river [Itchen] and a Grasshopper Warbler was also heard.
Summer is approaching but don’t be tempted to put out summer bedding until the risk of frosts are over, and make sure they have been hardened off before planting out.
Dahlias can be planted out at the end of the month. Stake any herbaceous plants that will flop over or be damaged by high winds. [Read more…] about Gardening Tips for May from Wellie
Flies everywhere; Tiger Moths; Moldy Warp; return of the Hedgehog; Gran the tennis star; avoiding the agonies of a guided tour; Cuckoos and Cowslips.
By April 13th 1948 many summer migrant birds (Cuckoos, Wood Warblers, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers) have been recorded in the local woods, and Gran is ecstatic about her lovely England in Spring. The weather has been warm, she notes on the 12th:
In the Park Road garden this afternoon there was a positive plague of flies, swarming everywhere, the gutters and front of the house black with them in parts, and all warm places like the edges of the frames, water-tap, shed doors and the grid over the water-cock were thickly covered. D.D.T. did not seem to deter them for long.
We’re at the time of year when the evenings are light enough for a short walk after work or after dinner. But where to go? Somewhere that’s not too far away, doesn’t need a map to navigate around, and is more interesting than wandering round a housing estate.
How about Fleming Park?
Fleming Park? Really?
To many people, Fleming Park is synonymous with the sports centre; it’s where you go to swim, play badminton or squash [Read more…] about A Walk in the Park
Blue Tits nest early; Gran does some cleaning but is easily distracted; “Hill 60”; the Downs are changing; the lovely village of Pitt; horrid Eastleigh; Jane gets her Guide badge.
Dad appears to be developing a network of entomological friends as Gran sometimes mentions that moths or larvae have been sent to him by post. For instance, on the 22nd March:
An Engrailed moth emerged in one of Barry’s breeding cages early tonight but up to the time of writing the wings had not expanded. The chrysalis was sent, among others, by an entomologist friend in the north.
Brusher Mills and a black Adder; update on “old Major”; a day full of beauty; Winnall Moors and “poor old Thumper”.
More work in the Sparrow’s Hedge garden next day, March 3rd 1948, when Gran is:
…setting out Early Midlothian potatoes for sprouting, sitting alone in the sunshine with only the sound of hens scratching round me…”
The link above shows the amazing colour of this old variety, which reminds me of the Edzell Blue, with which I became familiar while living in Angus. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part13)
Battling brambles; hungry children; Lou Meadon; skating on Cranbury Lake; hypnosis in the stoat world and get your hair cut during the waxing moon.
This afternoon [February 15th 1948] saw me away to the daffodil wood at Chilworth but unfortunately several others had reached the spot also. I really only went to see how they were progressing but the place is getting so well-known that I realised if I wanted any I must pick them today in bud. They open very successfully in water but I wanted to see them open in the woods. By that time I’m afraid there will be none left so I picked a few for myself and some to send to Kingston.
A love of England; a hatred of cats; Snowdrops; a bonfire; Compton Church on the wireless; Charlotte Yonge; Gilbert Whitley; and a hedgehog in the bed!
Gran writes on January 7th 1948 that a Fox had been busy in the neighbourhood:
…and last night a local smallholder was robbed of nine laying ducks. Proof of the identity of the thief lay in the discovery of three bodies with their heads bitten off.
Prune Chaenomeles (ornamental quince) and Forsythia after they have finished flowering. Check roses for black spot, remove any infected leaves and treat with a fungicide. [Read more…] about Wellie’s Gardening Tips for April
Did she see the princess? A late “fall”; Christmas 1947; “Minnies” and “Tommies” and a letter from Arthur Rackham.
Inside the front cover: “Semper Fidelis. Remembering always, Adrian, my friend”. On November 19th Gran writes:
I went to Ampfield just after dusk for a glimpse of Princess Elizabeth as she passed through on her way to Broadlands Park, and was surprised to hear a blackbird in full song.
A rare bird in the Forest and a new one on the coast; prowlers in the garden; no more Red Squirrels, chestnut gatherers and Ampfield lovlier than ever.
On October 7th 1947 Gran copies four pages of Ruskin’s positive views on the human character of the love of nature. She follows this with: [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 9)
The United Kingdom is a fusion of four old countries that have fought wars together and with others. It has had kings, princes, invaders, usurpers, pretenders, bishops, priests and parliamentarians who have fought among themselves. Going back into archaeological time and pre-history and even in legend there have been conflicts of people and ideas of which we know little. No wonder that the country is littered with old castles, battlefields, abbeys, forts and earthworks. [Read more…] about Ruins, what to Do with ’em?
Another visit to Kingston upon Thames; approval for the Winchester by-pass; war-time house-sharing; a rare plant appears in the garden and harvest festival celebrated at Compton Church.
On the 21st, there is a description of the autumnal bird movements and also of the colourful shrubs around Hursley at that time of year. Spindle is Gran’s favourite shrub, the fruits “just becoming that lovely shade of rose”. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 8)
Spring in Chandler’s Ford always reminds me of why we chose to move here – it’s so pretty! Dropping my children off when they were at Thornden always meant a detour along Nichol Road to see the blossom trees. [Read more…] about Spring has Sprung!
She never met William Rufus, but remembered House Sparrows in numbers, a doodlebug lifting her roof and could hear the ocean liners as they left the docks.
Gran spends August 4th 1947, at Romsey Horse Show. There is no mention of how she got there nor of her company, but they found Broadlands, where the show was held, delightful when they walked around it during the interval. And they made a visit to Pepperbox Hill that day too, returning “towards dusk as the sparrows were chattering in the hedges and the crickets chirping”.
[Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 7)
When I was a boy, some houses had cellars. Outside the house a grating covered a chute down into the cellar and the coal delivery man dumped his sack of coal down the chute. [Read more…] about Ferns, what are they good for?
Orchids in Beattie’s Field; High Brown Fritillaries; flowers of Southampton’s bombed sites and a squawking Nightjar chick!
Gran has made a few visits to the Punchbowl area on the Petersfield Road lately, looking for orchids and other wild flowers. When describing her finds, she always uses the plants’ scientific names – but many of them are well out of date today. For instance, she finds Habenaria conopsea, which must be Fragrant orchid – a plant now recognised as three separate species, and with a different Generic name. When at the Punchbowl, she:
…resented the arrival of noisy, chattering people on motorbikes who were apparently quite unaware of the beauty of sight and sound all round them, which they had so rudely disturbed.
Lift and divide overgrown clumps of herbaceous perennials that were not split in the Autumn.
Overcrowded clumps of snowdrops and winter aconites can be lifted and divided after they have finished flowering. [Read more…] about Wellie’s Gardening Tips for March
It’s the summer of 1947 – nesting birds, butterflies on the wing and flowering plants – and there are recollections of the Hiltingbury youth.
On May 22 1947, Gran notes Lithospermum purpureo-caeruleum (creeping gromwell) in the garden but, she says, “as this is a rarity I am waiting to verify my identification”.
Presently, the front garden of The Ridge has a large patch of this lovely blue-flowered plant, which was introduced from a small piece collected at Cheddar in 1967, so Gran’s earlier record of it is something of a mystery – though it was surely a garden escape from somewhere nearby. Dad tells me, “It is now a confounded nuisance, its long tough, slender rhizomes getting under paving slabs and amongst other plants, and producing flowering shoots in unwelcome places”. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 5)